**Women’s Lives Matter Campaign – Statement**
5 women murdered in 7 weeks in Doncaster.
We are outraged to hear of yet another woman’s murder in Doncaster – that makes 5 women murdered in one town and 8 altogether in the South Yorkshire region since the Covid-19 lockdown began.
Whilst we are aware that not all of the women’s deaths have been reported as domestic violence – men have been arrested in all cases. It is highly probable that many are domestic violence homicides or cases where the man was known to the victim.
Women are most likely to be killed by a man they know, in many cases their partner or ex-partner. Domestic violence and abuse (henceforth referred to as DV&A) is on the rise in the UK.
2019 marked a 5 year high for DV&A and we entered 2020 with the number of women being murdered a week by a partner or ex-partner moving from 2 a week to 3.
This increase comes after a decade of austerity measures and the cutting vital funds to many domestic violence services and refuges. 60% of all referrals to refuges in 2019 were rejected due to lack of space.
To put it simply: Domestic violence is increasing and increasingly women have fewer places to flee to.
On top of this, it is well researched that poverty limits a victim’s ability to flee and to able to be financially independent from perpetrators. Austerity measures have seen a general increase in poverty.
Women are more likely to be in poverty than men. This is because of their position socially as the main care givers of children and disabled or ill relatives and because they are more likely to be reliant on benefits and/ or in low paid, insecure employment.
All of this means women’s abilities to seek support or leave abusive relationships are increasingly impossible.
Now under Covid-19, lockdown restrictions have meant that DV&A has increased – with the government doing next to nothing to prevent this crisis.
Around £37 million was initially promised by the government to support DV&A charities to cope with increased demand – so far these charities have seen £1 million of this between them. There are not enough refuges as there is, but many have not even been able to open due to lack of funds to make them covid-19 safe.
We therefore demand the following of our local and national government in order to support victims of DV&A and save lives:
- Immediate reversal of all cuts to domestic violence services + full and substantial funding of refuges and DV&A services.
- Massive injection of funds to set up specialist refuges for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women.
- Specialist refuges to be set up and funded for women with disabilities and other specialist needs.
- Stop and scrap universal credit – establish a benefits system that people can actually live off and that meets their needs.
- For specialist police domestic violence units and courts to be reinstated – for democratically elected committees to be set up, including members of the public and professionals, to hold the police and courts accountable for how they deal with DV&A.
- Bring the family court back to local areas so women don’t have to travel long distances to attend.
- Fully funded legal aid for ALL who need it.
- Scrap the third child benefit limit + scrap the benefit cap.
- MARAC conferences to be held every day in local areas, led by DV&A specialists and not the police, to ensure quick responses to high risk victims.
- For social workers for the victim and not just the child – supporting mothers is supporting their children.
- Fully funded childcare so this cost is not a barrier to women getting jobs.
These demands are just the very basic steps that need to happen immediately to ensure victims have access to the support they need to leave violent relationships, continue to be safe and to be able to live independently. It is because women, particularly on low incomes, don’t have access to support, safe housing, financial independence or the legal system, that their lives are put at risk.
We demand that our local leadership in South Yorkshire use whatever funds they have at their disposal to implement these measures now and to campaign for sustainable funding from the government to meet these demands in the long term.
We make these demands because it is what is needed to save lives.
Women’s Lives Matter.